Category Archives: Breakfast and Brunch

Green and Gold Quiche (Quiche Florentine with Mushrooms)

I tend to hold on to recipes that have a “more the merrier” quality – this is certainly one of them.  If mushroom quiche is delicioso, and Quiche Florentine is equally lovely, what happens when you put the two together.  This recipe is based on one of my favorite omlettes, Elephant and Castle’s Green and Gold.  It combines gently cooked eggs with spinach and sharp white cheddar – I let my eggs cook delicately in the oven and add mushrooms for a little more veggie action.  It’s so delicious and so very easy, and you don’t have to stand over a pan to cook it.

All cheddars aren’t created equal, and in this recipe, you want as sharp as you can get it.  Sharp cheeses are good in that you can use less cheese to impart flavor, saving you calories in the process.  I use a good artisinal cheddar, but in a pinch, you could grab some Cracker Barrel Vermont Sharp White Cheddar and go from there. Continue reading Green and Gold Quiche (Quiche Florentine with Mushrooms)

Quiche Lorraine

Real men don’t eat quiche?  Garbage.  Since when do men not like bacon, eggs and cheese in portable form?  Quiche Lorraine is the ultimate symbol of breakfast majesty – it’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night trips to the fridge when you want a bite of a little something savory.  I’m all for serving this quiche with a plate of mixed greens (maybe in some Tarragon Lemon dressing?) but in actuality, I end up eating it still in the kitchen over the pan after it’s cooled to room temperature.  I’ll pass on standing on ceremony – if it’s good, I’m tucking in.

Quiche Lorraine © Spice or Die

This quiche recipe is incredibly versatile – if you’re so inclined, replace the 1 1/2 c. of ham with whatever filling you’d like.  For you vegetarian lovelies out there, try mushrooms, spinach, swiss chard, shallots – anything you put in an omlette can go in a quiche.  In fact, for a vegetarian delight, try my Green and Gold Quiche, a tasty blend of mushrooms, spinach, shallots and sharp white cheddar.  It’s not at all traditional, but equally grubworthy as this Quiche Lorraine. Continue reading Quiche Lorraine

Maitake Bread Pudding with Morel Velouté

Getting Into Trouble in the AM

When Elizabeth Crouch of Marx Foods asked if I’d be interested in their upcoming Morel Mushroom Competition, I nearly spit out my plate of spam and baked beans.  Kidding, you know I don’t eat mystery meat.  But I was surprised, honored and incredibly excited.  An opportunity to cook with 1 oz. of morels and a chance to win two pounds of fresh morels?  Bring it on!

Continue reading Maitake Bread Pudding with Morel Velouté

Savory Breakfast Strata

I’m a bacon and eggs girl all the way, and I believe in the savory goodness of a breakfast served 24 hours a day.  And given my proclivities to resurrecting leftovers with simple ingredients lying around, a strata is a glorious combination of toasted bread and eggy custard, studded with your favorite toppings.  Bacon, mushrooms, spinach, chard, cheese, tomatoes, peppers, you name it – if you can put it in an omlette, you can most likely include it in a strada.

Savory Mushroom Strada  © Spice or Die

I love this recipe for brunch guests for a couple of reasons.  It’s a great make ahead recipe that requires little to no babysitting.  Assemble leisurely and pop into the oven an hour before you want to eat.  Drink mimosas until it’s time.  Another thing I love is that this recipe rarely involves a trip to the grocery store – if you save your old bread when it gets too hard to eat, and just pluck some choice toppings from the fridge, you are in business.  Worst case scenario, you have to go to the store for eggs and cream.  Lastly, and most importantly, when this comes out of the oven, it looks incredibly impressive for being absolutely no work.  The best kind of recipe there is.

If you are watching your waistline, you can absolutely make this recipe with egg beaters in lieu of eggs and fat-free evaporated milk instead of the cream.  It is not as luxe, but it tastes damn good for having little to no fat.  You’ll just need to figure out what you want to do about the 2 c. of cheese and 1 c. of filling – if you use full fat cheese and say, bacon, don’t assume that it’s full fat.  Canadian bacon, good veggies, and a bit of sharp cheese (you need less because the taste is stronger) are good alternatives.  I don’t even want to talk about fat-free cheese – why waste the calories on tasteless drivel.  Lemme tell you how I really feel (ha!)

Ok, breakfast time!

Savory Breakfast Strata

3 c. of old bread, cubed (or fresh bread, cubed and toasted with a bit of olive oil)
4 eggs
1 1/4 c. of cream
1/8 tsp. of salt
1/8 tsp. of nutmeg
1/8 tsp. of white pepper
1/8 tsp. of black pepper
2 c. of grated cheese (sharp cheddar, swiss, provolone, mozzarella, fontina, etc. – definitely blend types)
1 c. of cooked meat and/or veggies (chopped bacon, ham or prosciutto, spinach, swiss chard, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a medium sized casserole or small ramekins with cooking spray or butter (I used some el cheapo parchement rounds from Sur La Table for the version in the photo above).  Sprinkle 1/2 c. of the cheese on the bottom of the ramekins or casserole.  Place on a cookie sheet and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with the one cup of your choice of meat and veggies, and 1 c. of the cheese.  Dump into the casserole dish or split amongst the ramekins.  Using the same bowl, beat the eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt, black pepper and white pepper.  Pour the custard over the bread, pushing down on the cubes to make sure that they are all saturated with the liquid.  Let sit for about 5 minutes and then gently push the cubes down a second time.  Top with the remaining 1/2 c. of cheese and then put the pan in the oven.  Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the center is no longer jiggly and the strata has puffed up like a soufflé.

Serve hot, or wait a bit and eat at room temperature.

Morel Mushroom Bacon, Egg and Cheese

Rob From the Rich and Give Truffles to the Poor

I know what you are thinking.  Based on the fancy pants ingredients in this dish and the haute descriptions, this seems like something reserved for trust-fund babies and old money fat cats.  Not the case, plebian reader.  I like to think of this as superior breakfast for the adventurous palette.  Got a little time after a hard week and want to treat yourself to something lovely?  Snag the ingredients for truly THE best bacon, egg and cheese of all time.  I’m talkin’ eternity.

Morel Mushroom Bacon, Egg and Cheese © Spice or Die

This recipe is a lovely tower of creamy eggs, rich goat cheese bechamel, savory morel mushrooms, and prosciutto baked until crispy as bacon.  The whole mix is atop a toasted round of brioche (cut with a $1 ring mold – pick one up and start impressing folks with your presentation skills) and topped with seasonal violets and leaves of fresh thyme.  I usually tell people to make dishes for people that they love, but this is reserved for people in the upper echelons of your love contingency.  Like the top 5.

Truthfully, you can go into this very budget-mindedly without sacrificing on taste.  Brioche can be replaced with challah or another cheaper, eggy bread.  Goat’s milk cheese can be acquired for a reasonable price and at most grocery stores.  Same deal with the prosciutto.  There is no replacement for morels and truffle oil, but they are your only splurge and you won’t be using a lot of them.  If you want my opinion, although it won’t be nearly as luxe, you could get away with replacing the morels with a super fresh in-season mushroom and leave out the truffle oil.  Not the same dish, but still decadent as hell.  But really, get the truffle oil.  You use so little and if you’ve never had truffles before, you need to.  You really, really, really need to.  Like now.

This recipe was born from our attempts (and by our, I mean my friends Richard and Amy, whom I invited to help me cook and who brought the lovely violets that I think make the presentation) to create an award-winning entry into the Marx Foods Morel Mushroom Competition.  We were sent 1 oz. of morel mushrooms and asked to make something lovely.  Well, creative kids that we are, we ended up making two dishes, and this, my darlings, is the runner up.  Can you believe that we found something crazy enough to guild the proverbial lily? And it wasn’t truffled eggs?  Make this one first, and then if you want to up the decadence, read our entry in the competition.  By the way, I’d be remiss in not thanking Justin Marx for his inclusion of my humble site in the short list of competitors.  Talk about good people :)  Not to mention their products are ever-so-lovely – I spend hours just thinking how much damage I can do with their fabulous ingredients.  A cook’s dream.

But I digress, as it’s time for some decadence. This recipe is NOT hard to cook.  In fact, the hardest part is the grocery shopping.  It does, however, go in stages, with all of the components assembled at the last minute.  It’s forgiving, though, so take your time stirring and assembling, and maybe enlist those aforementioned people you love in putting the whole thing together. And then get them to wash the dishes.

Morel Bacon, Egg and Cheese (Truffled Eggs on Brioche with Morels, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Chip)

1/4 oz. of dried morels
1 c. of chicken stock
2 tbs of butter

3 slices of brioche
2 tbs. of butter

2 prosciutto slices

2 tbs. of butter
2 tbs. of flour
2 c. of milk
1/3 c. of cream
1 c. of mild goats milk cheese, grated (we used Midnight Moon Goat from Whole Foods, but use whatever you like, to include 8 oz. of mild soft goat cheese)
pinch of black pepper
pinch of white pepper
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp. of salt

6 eggs
2 tbs. of truffle oil
3 tbs. of butter
1 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of white pepper
2 tbs. of cream

violet blossoms
fresh thyme leaves

Round one – prep your morels.  Bring your stock to a boil and plunk in your morels.  Cover and let sit for 30 minutes or until mushrooms are puffy and lovely.  Strain, making sure any grit is poured out with the chicken broth.  Slice morels in half and sauté in a pan with 2 tbs. of butter on medium love until soft – about 3-4 minutes.  Set aside.

Round two – begin by prepping your brioche.  Cut out slices from a loaf, or if you want to be ultra fancy, cut out rounds using a 3″ ring mold.  Cookie cutters also work well.  Plunk 2 tbs. of butter into a skillet and melt on low heat.  Turn up the heat to medium low and toast the bread on each side until golden.  Set aside.

Round three – make your prosciutto chips (and you can skip this step, my vegetarian darlings).  Line a baking pan with foil and crank your oven to 450°.  Lay prosciutto flat on the baking pan, making sure that the pieces aren’t touching.  Place in the oven and bake until crispy and dark rose, about 10-12 minutes.  Check once or twice to make sure that it doesn’t burn – there’s not much fat on the prosciutto so they can cook quickly depending on the thickness of the slices.  Set aside.

Round four – make your bechamel (cream sauce).  Melt 2 tbs. of butter in the same pot you sautéed your morels in on medium low.  Whisk in the flour and stir until smooth and all incorporated – about 1 minute or so.  Slowly add your milk in dribs and drabs, whisking to prevent lumps.  Keep on whisking and crank the heat to medium to coax the sauce into thickening.  When it gets lovely and creamy, pour in the heavy cream.  Whisk and add the black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, nutmeg and salt.  Turn off the heat and whisk in the grated cheese.  If you are using goat cheese instead of a hard goat’s milk cheese that can be grated, just toss spoonfuls of it into the sauce and stir.  Taste for salt and pepper and correct seasoning.  Set aside.

Round five – egg action.  Scramble together 6 eggs, truffle oil, salt and white pepper.  Melt 3 tbs. of butter in a skillet on low and then slowly pour in your eggs.  Keep your heat LOW the whole time and gently stir your eggs as small curds form delicately.  This is a slow process, but not complicated.  Just keep stirring until the eggs are creamy and shiny and still a little wet.  Pour in the cream and turn off the heat.

Now, for the big finish – grab some plates and put a piece of brioche on each.  If you are going for fancy presentation, put the ring mold over the brioche and gently put 1/3 of the eggs right into the ring mold.  Otherwise, just portion the eggs right over the toasted brioche however you’d like.  Split the morels amongst the three plates of eggs.  Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of goat cheese bechamel over the works.  Sprinkle the thyme leaves and the violets over the entire plate.  Spear the top of the eggs with a shard of prosciutto.

Tuck into some majesty.

Dark Chocolate Pecan Banana Bread

Turning the Busted into the Beautimus is Totally Bananas

I’m no freegan (or as my Dad would say, dumpster diver), but banana bread is my favorite celebration of letting as little as possible go to waste.  When you’ve forgotten to hit Chiquita up fast enough and your bananas have gone from yellow to brown (or black, even!), that’s when you need to pull out this recipe.  Banana bread is not only exceptional with old bananas, it truly can ONLY be made with old bananas.  So next time you’re thinking about tossing those seemingly junky bunches, save them for this delicious treat.

Dark Chocolate Banana Bread © Spice or DIe

Banana bread is certainly a morning treat, and has a reputation for being a nutritious breakfast.  This is not that banana bread.  Gooey dark chocolate and crunchy pecans are mixed into the rich, buttery batter.  I make this bread when I’m looking for something slightly sweet for dessert – it’s still light like banana bread, but the chocolate just takes it to another level.  Don’t skimp on the chocolate, by the way – the finer the cocoa content, the better.  I like the Lindt bars with 60% cocoa, broken into pieces.  If you’ve only got chips in the house, though, you can certainly use them.  Just try to buy good ones, like Ghiradelli.

Banana bread, as you may have guessed it since I’m the one making it, takes no skill whatsoever to bake.  Although it takes about an hour to bake, it’s one of those excellent dump and stir operations that you can do without much thought.  That’s the kind of baking for me 😉

Dark Chocolate Pecan Banana Bread

3-4 very ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 tsp. of vanilla
1/2 c. of butter, softened
1 c. of sugar
1 1/3 c. of flour
1 tsp. of baking soda
1/2 tsp. of salt
1 c. of pecans, chopped
1/2 c. of dark chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350°. Mash the bananas in a bowl.  Mix in the eggs, vanilla and softened butter.  Sift in the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.  Fold to incorporate dry ingredients into the wet.  Mix in pecans and chocolate.  Butter a 9x5x3 pan and turn out the batter into the pan.  Place in the oven and cook for 55 minutes.  Let cool and slice into squares.